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Friday, May 3, 2013

Syrian Government Captures Costal Town

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human rights, over 50 women and children were killed, when forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad captured the costal village of Baida yesterday. The final death toll will is expected to exceed 100. The Observatory also reported that many of the bodies bore signs of execution, a number of the corpses had been burned. This assault on Baida came only 20 hours after rebels ambushed a bus carrying many shabbiha, as the pro-Assad militia are known, in a nearby town. Assad’s forces have launched a cascade of successful attacks this spring, capturing rebel positions nationwide. The counteroffensive has driven wedges between the loosely affiliated rebel groups, and have re-connected Assad’s capital with his Alewite clan home on the coast. Anti-Assad activists have noticed this trend and issued a call to the disparate rebel factions, “If you do not unite under one flag the regime is going to hunt you down, one brigade after another.” The 2 year struggle against Assad has claimed 70,000 lives, displaced 3.8 million people, and dramatically increased sectarian tension.

Kenyatta to Visit U.K.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to attend a conference on Somalia in London next week, despite being wanted for crimes against humanity by International Criminal Court(ICC). Kenyatta is wanted by the ICC on charges stemming from ethnic violence that saw 1500 killed, after the bungled 2007 presidential elections in Kenya. The trip, Kenyatta’s first trip abroad since his election in March, is by invitation of the British government. “Kenya is a vital partner on Somalia and we judge our contact according to the issue concerned,” a spokesman for Britain’s Foreign Office said. This invitation is seen by George Morara, the Senior Program Officer at Kenya Human Rights Commission, as reflecting the West’s desire to keep Kenya as a stable ally, at the expense of ‘western’ principles. Kenya is an important western ally in the War on Terror; Kenyan forces drove into Somalia, last September, routing al-Shabaab fighters in Kismayo.

Guatemala Suspends Constitutional Rights

Today the Guatemalan interior ministry has banned public gathering and sent troops into the south eastern department of Santa Rosa, after clashes between police and anti- mine protestors turned deadly earlier this week. Months of protests have become rancorous after the Escobal mine, which protestors believe will adversely affect their water supply, was granted its operating permit last month. According to Tahoe Resources, the Canadian-based owner of the Escobal mine in San Rafael Las Flores, Guatemala, community members armed with machetes “turned hostile” and mine security guards fired tear gas and rubber bullets in response. Protestor Oscar Morales García disagreed saying, “There are people who were shot with real bullets. One has a bullet lodged in his body and it was decided that it’s better if it stays there instead of taking it out. Those aren’t rubber bullets.” The turmoil has resulted in the death of one police officer, and at least six members of the community wounded by gunfire. The Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina has issued 30-day a state of siege which will allow security forces to temporarily to make detentions, conduct searches and question suspects outside the normal legal framework.

Senior Pakistani Prosecutor Assassinated

Gunmen shot Pakistani prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali 13 times in Islamabad today, as he drove to a court hearing in which the former Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf faces charges in relation to former PM Benazir Bhutto’s assassination in 2007. Ali’s bodyguard was wounded by the motorcycle-borne assailants as they sprayed Ali’s car with machine gun fire; Ali’s driver lost control of the car and hit a passer-by. Three days ago, Ali told reporters that he has “solid evidence” that connected Musharraf with Bhutto’s death. Musharraf has denied this allegation.
Senior prosecutor Ali was also part of another high profile case; seven members of Lashkar-e-Taiba charged with involvement in the attacks in Mumbai, India, in November 2008, which killed more than 160 people. There was no immediate claim of responsibility; no arrests have been made. This assassination is the latest in a string of attacks against politicians ahead of the coming Pakistani elections, earlier this morning in Karachi, a candidate for the Awami National Party, a secular party that has drawn the ire of the Pakistani Taliban, was gunned down along with his six-year-old son.

Weekend Read: China’s Cyberspies Outwit Model for Bond’s Q

The last six years have seen Chinese hackers compromise the likes of Google, Facebook, and Apple. They’ve also hacked nearly every major U.S. Defense contractor. What those hackers might have been after and what they got, in Bloomberg.

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